The h2g2 Opera Users' Group

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This is page is for those that use the Opera web browser here at h2g2, let me know what you want to see & I will try and put it insmiley - geek.

The Opera Web Browser

Opera is the third most popular web browser in use at the time of writing1. With an email client and a news reader, it is available for machines using MS Windows, BeOS, MAC OS, Linux, Solaris, QNX, OS/2 and Symbian OS. It is almost unique these days in being a paid-for browser - unlike its free competition - although a free advert supported mode is available for some of the operating systems supported. Opera also has an intensely loyal following who keep in touch via the Opera news-groups.

How, Where, Why?

It all started back in 1994 when Jon S von Tetzchner and Geir Ivarsøy were commissioned by Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor to develop a web browser. In 1995, they left Telenor, taking the project with them, and set up Opera Software ASA in Norway.

In 1996, the Opera 2.1 for MS Windows (the first public release of Opera) was made available as shareware over the Internet. In 1998, Opera 3 was released and went on to win several awards. Work was also started on porting Opera to other Operating Systems.

By 1999, browsers that supported HTML 4 were becoming the norm and Opera, which only supported up to HTML 3, was looking a bit tired. Opera came back with a bang in 2000, first with Opera 4 and then with the advert-supported Opera 5, which had over two million downloads in its first month of public release.

At the end of 2001, Opera 6 was released for MS Windows and LINUX.

Why is Opera Special?

It's fast! The program is smaller and thus faster than its rivals. Opera has also always strived to meet 100% of the World Wide Web Consortium standards. It has excellent cookie management and is very customisable in look and feel. Its use of a multi-document interface (windows within windows) makes it ideal for h2g2 addicts. It is also available in over 25 languages from Afrikaans to Welsh. Version 6 also includes a handy pop-up killer to get rid of annoying adverts.

Additional features include:

  • Mouse gestures - These are mouse-generated shortcuts that let you go back and forward between pages by simply right-clicking and sliding left or right, or just open a new page by right-clicking and sliding down.

  • Continuity of browsing - There are two ways to do this; either 'save windows' before exiting or specify 'continue browsing where I left off last time' in the 'Preferences' menu of Opera.

  • Integrated search engine - Opera features an integrated search box, the default setting is 'Google' but there is a wide choice of search engines that can specified.

  • Hotclick - This enables the user to find information related to a certain paragraph or word with a one-two 'Hotclick'. Just highlight the word or paragraph and right-click to translate it or find its specific meaning.

  • Keyboard shortcuts - These are simple keyboard commands for many routine browsing tasks.

  • Built-in ICQ client - For those of us that like to chat while browsing.

What's Bad about It?

Plug-ins such as Macromedia Flash and QuickTime create some problems. Opera uses Netscape plug-ins, but only a few plug-in suppliers support Opera, so a lot of the time you have to manually install the plug-in. You can find instructions on how to do this for most popular plug-ins on the Opera Website.

It can also be quite fussy over badly-written HTML/XHTML code. Additionally, if you opt for the free version, you have to put up with a small but irritating advert in the top left corner of the browser.

Although it has excellent tools for filtering cookies, once you have accepted a cookie, it can be difficult to get rid of. Unlike other browsers that store cookies as individual text files Opera stores all cookies in a singe file2. Third party tools are available that give you access to this file in order to delete individual cookies.

The email and newsreader sections of Opera are relatively new additions to the program and although they work well they do lack some of the more advanced features you would find in a stand-alone program.

Is Opera for You?

For many, Opera offers a quicker, easier browsing experience. However, installation of some of the plug-ins you may need does require a certain level of technical competence3, But, when all is said and done, it comes down to a simple question: 'Do you want to try something a little different?'

Opera Help


You can find help on Linux plug-in's here.

You can find help on Windows plug-in's here.


In Opera 6+ users can place their favorite Web pages in panel's that are displayed in the Hotlist during their browsing session. Web pages for panels have to be optimized to the Hotlist size.

The following are pages that have been optimized to make good panel's or make good panel’s without optimization.

  • h2g2 Conversation List: Adding a convrsation list is as simple as right clicking on a Hotlist tab such as bookmarks and selecting Add panel. You will be prompted for the name/title of the panel and the URL of the web-page panel (Enter
  • Who is On-Line: Who is on-line here at h2g2 makes a great panelsmiley - cool.
  • Search h2g2: This page has been optimized so you can search h2g2 from a Hotlist panel.
  • United Nations: This page has been optimized to bring the news headlines from the United Nations in a panel format.
  • Greenpeace: This page has been optimized to bring the news headlines from the Greenpeace in a panel format.
  • International Relations: This page has been optimized to bring International Relations headlines & features in a panel format.
  • Space Science: This page has been optimized to bring Space Science news in a panel format.
  • Vatican News: This page has been optimized to bring the Vatican news headlines in a panel format.
  • Cricket: This page has been optimized to bring the latest Cricket news headlines in a panel format.
  • UK News: This page has been optimized to bring UK News headlines in a panel format.
  • UK Politics: This page has been optimized to bring UK Political headlines in a panel format.
  • UK Weather4: This is a wap (WML) site whose pages make good panel's.
  • News from Guardian Unlimited5: This is a wap (WML) site whose pages make good panel's.

If you have any request let me know & I’ll see what I can dosmiley - winkeye.

And from DoctorGonzo.

  • Google: Search from Google in panel sized page.
  • Ananova: News from Ananova.

And from pheloxi.

If any one knows of any sites that make good panels e-mail me & let me know.


You can find a selection of Skins for Opera here.

Dose anybody want to design a Goo skin ?

1Use of Opera is much under reported as Opera lets the user choose whether it identifies itself as Opera or as Netscape or MS Internet Explorer when requesting data from an Internet server.2cookies.dat in the main Opera folder on your hard drive.3The ability to read the notes on the Opera Help page and the ability to copy and paste files from one folder to another on your hard drive.4This a WAP site, if unlike Opera your browser dose not support the WAP protocol you wont be able to see it.5See Footnote 3

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